On Wednesday, Steve Jobs announced its resignation as CEO of Apple, in a letter addressed to Apple’s Board of Directors. In his letter, Jobs recommended Tim Cook, COO of Apple since 2007, as his successor. Jobs will stay on as chairman.
In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer; while the cancer was cured, Jobs had to undergo a liver transplant in 2009. Health issues caused Jobs to go on medical leave at the beginning of 2011, even though reports suggest he has been active in the management of the company until a few days ago, handling personally negotiations with China Mobile regarding, it seems, a possible iPhone deal.
Steve Jobs has reached legendary status in Silicon Valley thanks to his skills, his charisma, and his constant desire to innovate and to follow his guts instead of market research. Uncompromising in his desire to follow his vision to the point of being seen as reckless, Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he had founded, in 1985. He started again, creating companies like NeXT computers (which would not be as successful as he had hoped), Pixar, and finally being called back to Apple when the company was close to failure, in 1996. The following 15 years, against all expectations, became the most successful in the history of Apple. First the iMac, then the creation of the Apple Stores, then the iPod and iTunes, then the iPhone and iPad. Over the years, Jobs has surrounded himself with some of the biggest talents in the industry – people like Jonathan Ive – always giving enormous importance to the design phase of his products.
Jobs is still sitting as chairman of Apple, but as NY Times’ David Pogues noted, a lot of reactions to the news, today, sound a lot like obituaries. Jobs has always made it very clear that he loves the job he is doing; thus, his decision to leave the company he has founded sounds a lot like a goodbye to many of his fans.
His fans: the outpouring of support after yesterday’s news has been amazing. In all honesty, I am unable to idolize a human being; I stopped doing that many years ago. I also tend to be suspicious of people able to amass enormous wealth in a world where the vast majority is living in conditions they have no means to improve. Do not get me wrong: I have nothing against Mr.Jobs in particular.
But, I do like people that love their work passionately, and that are able to follow their visions and finally turn them into reality. Believing in what you do, and doing it to the point of actually creating something, is difficult. Most of us fail before even trying.
To me, the most interesting part of Mr.Jobs’ story is the unconventional way he acquired his skills (this is a very, very good read, even if you hate motivational speeches: a good story is always a good story). He dropped out of college, and followed only some calligraphy courses; at that time, he did not know it, but those courses would have helped him come up with some of the design ideas for the products his fans love and use everyday. He went to India, and came back as a Buddhist, shaved head included. He tried LSD, and he has had no problem admitting it has been one of the most important experiences in his life. And best of it all, he had success but also terrible failures, many times in his life; and he used those failures to his advantage, to learn something new. Steve Jobs achieved success being curious; he does not play by the rules the system wants him to follow; like an adventurer, he improvises, when necessary, and this seems to have worked well many times in his life.
And, you know, adventurers are well known to have tough skins; tougher than they themselves know.